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British RoyalsThe Cambridges

Kate cracks codes during visit to Bletchley Park

The Duchess of Cambridge paid a visit to Bletchley Park to view a special exhibition in the lead-up to D-Day commemorations next month.

Bletchley Park, the codebreaking capital of the Second World War, is where intelligence was gathered and cracked during wartime. Kate’s grandmother, Valerie Glassborow Middleton, and great-aunt Mary worked there before marriage.

Kate was shown the Codebreakers’ Wall, which honours the women who worked there and was surprised with the two newest bricks placed amongst its ranks: her grandmother’s and great-aunt’s, placed there for her visit.

The Duchess finds the name of her great-aunt on the bricks. @KensingtonRoyal/Twitter

The immersive exhibition, titled ‘D-Day: Interception, Intelligence, Invasion,’ will showcase how vital the codebreaking work was for D-Day preparations, and is housed in the Teleprinter Building, a newly-renovated space where “hundreds of thousands of intercepted messages first arrived…from secret listening posts across the UK,” according to Bletchley Park’s website.

After viewing the exhibit, Kate met with the team who helped renovate the Teleprinter Building during her visit.

Next, Kate met with students who have been learning to code with Enigma machines and talked about her grandmother’s work at Bletchley Park.

“It’s quite interesting how you’re all learning about coding at school, and now you can look back at how it first started,” Kate told the students, who attend Year Six at Akeley Wood Primary School. “At the time, they couldn’t talk about it, could they?”

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Kate revealed to them that “My granny and her sister worked here. It’s very cool. When she was alive, sadly she could never talk about it. She was so sworn to secrecy that she never felt able to tell us.”

The students were learning about the D-Day codebreaking that took place at Bletchley Park in June 1944 and were intercepting and deciphering German messages to learn about the battle plans and if the operation had been successful.

“Our learning activities bring the story of what happened here to life,” said Kate Travers, the Head of Learning at Bletchley Park.

“We aim to help young people develop their problem solving and collaborative teamworking skills, as well as further their understanding of the impact of information technology on their lives today. It was wonderful to welcome the Duchess of Cambridge to join in with some of our codebreaking activities and hear from school children why the story of D-Day matters to them.”

Afterwards, Kate met with Rena Stewart, Georgina Rose, Elizabeth Diacon, and Audrey Mather, four veterans who worked in the Teleprinter Building, and with other departments that helped with intelligence gathering ahead of D-Day in 1944.

Kate told them that it was lovely that they were being celebrated, “Your families must be very proud.”

Mrs Mather told Kate that “We haven’t got together like this before. We don’t know each other even though we were here at the same time.”

Kate asked if they were able to share stories now and again said that her grandmother had never talked about her work at Bletchley Park either. She also told them about the school children doing the codebreaker exercises and revealed that “they were saying it is really complicated. They have got a real appreciation of what you were doing.”

“We were thrilled to welcome The Duchess of Cambridge back to Bletchley Park,” said Iain Standen, the Chief Executive of the Bletchley Park Trust in a press release on the Trust’s website.

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“The Duchess’ grandmother, Valerie Glassborow, and her twin sister Mary had a direct impact on military operations during World War Twi. Her Royal Highness, her family and other families of Bletchley Park Veterans can be justifiably proud of the work they did to support the war effort.”

‘D-Day: Interception, Intelligence, Invasion’ is now open to the public and will run for the next decade.

About author

Jess is a communications professional and freelance writer who lives in Halifax and has a passion for all things royal, particularly the British Royal Family.